Monmouth, area ?, District ? (General)

by Jefff @, West London, Middlesex, Saturday, July 27, 2013, 19:33 (2649 days ago)

"And how big an area would 'Monmouth' then have covered ?" http://www.forum.forest-of-dean.net/index.php?id=41651

Hi,
From this & some of your earlier queries I see you have been "confused" as the Forest placenames you're researching, particularly those to the western side nearer Coleford, seem to vary thro the Census years with regard to their location as quoted on Census forms. This subject's been raised a few times, I know I was baffled when I started researching my family in the Lydbrook area just a few miles up the Wye. This was especially difficult to fathom at first as sometimes they appeared to suddenly become Welsh insofar as they were in the Wales Census, or their BMDs were officially registered as "Monmouth", rather than "Westbury On Severn", a place I was far more familiar-with as a resident of the eastern Forest with it being onroute to Gloster and beyond which we often visited, unlike Monmouth way.
We naturally consider the England - Wales border to be the River Wye, the obvious strategic border as used since the Romans and Normans arrived. Monmouth sits on the border/river at the very eastern edge of Wales, yet despite this non-central location is the County town of Monmouthshire which extends westwards into Wales. However despite this the county of Monmouthshire has often been considered an English County, I suspect because of the emergence of it's coal-rich south Wales valleys and associated iron industries....

Monmouth was an important town of local government long before the industrial growth of south Wales, it being considered so as one of the last outposts of "civilised" England before entering the wild and potentially unsafe Celtic country which even the Romans and Normans steered-clear of, just as they did the inner Forest. Monmouth was the area's equivalent of Hereford and Gloucester, hard to imagine nowadays given it's much smaller size. Re local government of the Forest it was equivalent to equally ancient Westbury on Severn on t'other side of Dean. Hence these towns shared the local government duties of the Forest when that started being settled in the early 1800s or so. As the Forest filled with more immigrants thro the later 1800s, and communities and parishes created & grew, so local civic districts also changed in area and name, hence the apparently confusing namechanges between the various Census years. However from a BMD Registration viewpoint, the western area of the Forest around Coleford still tended to come under Monmouth office jurisdiction, later with Chepstow too, so still harking back to medieval times with the castles of Monmouth & St Briavels.

The best way I've found of trying to understand the various civic districts and how they changed thro time is this excellent site, if you still have any queries it should help.
http://www.ukbmd.org.uk/genuki/reg/districts/monmouth.html
As much as I truly love my home area, all this interaction twixt Districts, adjoining counties and countries didn't help my introduction to FH research, so I sympathise for newcomers such as your goodself who don't know the lie of the land either !

If you've not seen it, I often recommend using the Genuki site, it can give a great deal of helpfull information about Victorian life across the UK, such as old Gazetteers, Church Parish info, etc etc.
http://www.genuki.org.uk/big/wal/MON/Monmouth/index.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monmouthshire_(historic)

So it could be argued that "Monmouth" could include the whole County; as I'm sure you know sometimes a Census will show say "Gloster" as a place of birth, whereas in fact GlosterSHIRE was meant. Then again, this entry in a census was purely down to the person being asked, and sometimes they'd give an answer that suits their own views over actual precise locations.
Re the formal BMD registrations, from a Dean viewpoint anywhere in the north-western edge, particularly Coleford area, could come under Monmouth. Then again, I have no idea what (if any) the legal situation was back in the C19th (ie what rules/guidelines there were to ensure a BMD event was reported to the register authority, and by whom), but I've seen cases where these were reported hence registered quite a way from the obvious place of residence - I'd assumed to perhaps avoid embarrassment if the baby's father is in doubt, or the married couple seem rather young or have eloped...

Hoping this helps, keep hunting !

Monmouth, area ?, District ?

by pojames @, Saturday, July 27, 2013, 20:02 (2649 days ago) @ Jefff

Thanks for another informative post, as always, Jefff. I've printed it off to go away and study it !

But yes, I am aware that the England / Wales border has been a matter of dispute over the years; and the county borders even now keep on changing (Yorkshire / East Riding / Humberside / Cleveland etc !).

And I noticed a Roman Road on the map, running more or less straight through the middle of the Forest the other day, and wondered if that was for 'border patrols', in the same away as there were Roman roads just the English side of Hadrian's Wall ?

There may even be a section on this site for Romans In The Forest, but I haven't yet seen it. Shall look. They of course were always keen on their mining - metals being their main justification for occupying the country, along with 'slaves and hunting dogs' I seem to remember !

Thanks again - and for the links, which I shall pursue at leisure.

Romans ....

by pojames @, Saturday, July 27, 2013, 20:14 (2649 days ago) @ pojames

Nice article (1895) on Romans in the Forest, ('Notes on a great Hoard of Roman Coins.....') and their mining activities. Thought there would be something somewhere ! Shall get out my Roman OS map and check it out, too.

Romans and Roads

by Jefff @, West London, Middlesex, Saturday, July 27, 2013, 20:23 (2649 days ago) @ pojames

Thanks for your kind words, but please be assured I'm only an enthusiastic amateur and other members are better historians than I'll ever be, and certainly better at presenting it.

Re the Romans (what good did they ever do us anyway ?....)
In case you haven't seen it, this whole site may be searched from the "Google"search box at lower L/H side of the main homepage.

Entering "Roman" gives many hits, this is perhaps most relevant as it details the Bicknor area you've come to know.
http://www.forest-of-dean.net/downloads/Stories_Articles/History_of_Lydbrook.pdf

As kids a popular spot to visit and play in the summer was Blackpool Bridge & Brook, it's near what was said to be an exposed section of Roman road, altho opinions seem to vary as to whether it's really that old. These links will hopefully interest you.

http://www.fweb.org.uk/local-history/4-The_Romans
http://glostransporthistory.visit-gloucestershire.co.uk/roman.htm
http://www.bike99.com/27.html

Romans in the Forest ....

by pojames @, Saturday, July 27, 2013, 20:34 (2649 days ago) @ Jefff

Thanks for the links, Jefff. (Thread closed, so starting again.) I confess although I had found the search facility for the Forum, I hadn't looked twice at the rather diminutive google box tright at the bottom of the homepage; and yes, trying 'roman villa' and 'roman road' produces enough material to keep me happy for a week or two, I would think ! Many thanks .....

Districts - history guidelines

by slowhands, proud of his ancient Dean Forest roots, Monday, July 29, 2013, 07:42 (2647 days ago) @ pojames

Thanks for another informative post, as always, Jefff. I've printed it off to go away and study it !

But yes, I am aware that the England / Wales border has been a matter of dispute over the years; and the county borders even now keep on changing (Yorkshire / East Riding / Humberside / Cleveland etc !).

And I noticed a Roman Road on the map, running more or less straight through the middle of the Forest the other day, and wondered if that was for 'border patrols', in the same away as there were Roman roads just the English side of Hadrian's Wall ?

There may even be a section on this site for Romans In The Forest, but I haven't yet seen it. Shall look. They of course were always keen on their mining - metals being their main justification for occupying the country, along with 'slaves and hunting dogs' I seem to remember !

Thanks again - and for the links, which I shall pursue at leisure.


Again the guidelines might help http://www.forum.forest-of-dean.net/index.php?mode=entry&id=40313

--
Ἀριστοτέλης A Gloster Boy in the Forest of Dean ><((((*>

Districts. 'Fundholder' / 'Interest of money' ??

by pojames @, Monday, July 29, 2013, 08:54 (2647 days ago) @ slowhands

Thanks for that, slowhands. I've become aware of the shifting nature of 'Monmouth' over the years, but your link is very helpful.

Oddly enough I've just been following my grandmother, Mary Ann Marshall, who appears first age 2 in Eastbach in the 1861 census, but who seemed to have vanished off the face of the earth 1881. Discovered in the end that she had got a job working in Usk, only about 12 miles from Monmouth, but in the Welsh census !

She was then working for what looks an interesting family, the Carbonells, living at the oddly named Rhiw Castell, which seems to have been not a country house at all, but a town house in the middle of Usk - I suspect a fantasy Welsh name given to the house by incoming English from Middx. William Carbonell gave a huge collection of ferns to Kew Gdns, apparently !

Very odd descriptions of members of the household; along with William Carbonell, winemerchant, aged 72, there is Eleanor Carbonell (a deaconess, it says elsewhere) unmarried, aged 41, described as Head of the household and 'Fundholder', as is a visitor, aged 23; another visitor is described as 'Interest of money'. Three servants including my g'mother. I'm sure these descriptions will be familiar to those who have spent more time in genealogical research than I have. Is 'Fundholder' simply a way of saying that they have independent means, which I take it is the meaning of 'Gentleman', so don't need to work ?

'Fundholder' / 'Interest of money'

by pojames @, Monday, July 29, 2013, 12:04 (2647 days ago) @ pojames

Probably bad form to answer one's own question, but I just happened to turn up the 1851 instructions to the Census enumerator, where it says:

"Persons following no Profession, Trade or calling and holding no public office, but deriving their income chiefly from land, houses, mines, or other real property, from dividends, interest of money, annuities &c. may designate themselves "Landed Proprietor," "Proprietor of Iron Mines," "Proprietor of Houses," "Fund-holder," "Annuitant," &c. as the case may be. Persons of advanced age who have RETIRED FROM BUSINESS to be entered thus - "Retired Silk Merchant," "Retired Watchmaker," &c."

I see the same question ("What is a fundholder ?") has been posted elsewhere, so this might be of interest to other forum members. It says "etc", so presumably "interest of money", as listed above, could be given as an occupation.

Districts. 'Fundholder' / 'Interest of money' ??

by Jefff @, West London, Middlesex, Monday, July 29, 2013, 12:17 (2647 days ago) @ pojames

Hi,
nice to see you're still enjoying your research :-)

Re you eventually finding your ancestor in the Wales Census, despite Usk being in Monmouthshire a supposedly English County; I've noticed in my forays into the Ancestry and FamilySearch (LDS) search sites that their results often list all the England Census findings first, even when far more likely "hits" from within the Wales Census results are to be found way down the pages, sometimes even after very unlikely proposed matches from many miles across England. I think this is because my search terms invariably include "Gloucestershire" or English placenames. My recommendation nowadays when searching a tricky name, such as my alltocommon Jones' & Taylors, is to checkout JUST the Wales Census "hits" first particularly any under "Monmouth", using the appropriate filters at left of the search page; usually not many to browse thro and can often quickly give good results.

As mentioned earlier, despite being a Jones Boy and knowing I had some Welsh blood, we always considered ourselves English, perhaps emphasised as we rarely visited Monmouth etc to our West but instead went East to Longhope, Ross and Gloster for shoppping or visiting relatives, so rarely thought of ourselves as being Welsh or near Wales. That said my dad worked at his home village Lydbrook most his life and knew the area well, his mum lived and died there. However my brother-in-law also from Worral Hill/Lydbrook just a few miles from us often visited the likes of Monmouth, Chepstow and Newport in his social travels as a young man so had a completely different subconcious mindset, 40 years later he still regularly shops in Monmouth for example; I suspect that would affect the way he approached FH searches.

------

Re "Fundholder", yes you're right, I think it particularly referred to what we would call Shareholders. Then again, I guess it could have been a cheeky loan-shark, although not in your case of course !

EDIT: oops, hadn't seen your reply to yourself. Ah well.
And no I dont think it bad form at all, I often talk to myself, we sometimes even agree too which is good. My view is the forum is a source of hopefully good reference info for others now & in years to come, not just a Q&A site, so the more replies the better.

'Fundholder'

by slowhands, proud of his ancient Dean Forest roots, Monday, July 29, 2013, 12:29 (2647 days ago) @ Jefff


------

Re "Fundholder", yes you're right, I think it particularly referred to what we would call Shareholders. Then again, I guess it could have been a cheeky loan-shark, although not in your case of course !


Fund holder is best thought of as one whose income come from the investment of money / a fund often in stocks / shares.

Annuitant is best thought of as someone who receives an annual income typically from an insurance or pension fund.

--
Ἀριστοτέλης A Gloster Boy in the Forest of Dean ><((((*>

Districts. 'Fundholder' / 'Interest of money' ??

by pojames @, Monday, July 29, 2013, 12:32 (2647 days ago) @ Jefff

Thanks again, Jefff and slowhands ! Yes, 'shareholder' would indeed, I suppose, be the precise modern equivalent.

Very interested in your comments about 'subconscious mindset' re. whether one sees oneself as being Welsh or English. Out of interest, is the English side of the border referred to as the Welsh Border, or the English Border ? i.e. does it depend on your viewpoint ? (i ask, because I think my father referred to it as the 'Welsh Borders' - did that mean the family saw itself as Welsh ?)

Districts. - viewpoint

by slowhands, proud of his ancient Dean Forest roots, Monday, July 29, 2013, 13:07 (2647 days ago) @ pojames

Very interested in your comments about 'subconscious mindset' re. whether one sees oneself as being Welsh or English. Out of interest, is the English side of the border referred to as the Welsh Border, or the English Border ? i.e. does it depend on your viewpoint ? (i ask, because I think my father referred to it as the 'Welsh Borders' - did that mean the family saw itself as Welsh ?)

Well...

The land to the east of the Wye is often referred to as the Welsh Borders and the land/counties along the Welsh/English border as the Marches. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Welsh_Marches

If I was in Redbrook looking across the Wye towards the woods and Penalt, my viewpoint, would be that I was in the Forest ( or Gloucestershire, or England )looking towards Monmouthshire (or Wales) across the border. I don't think that I would refer to it as either the English border or the Welsh border.

If I was crossing the old rail bridge into Wales, I might think that I was crossing the Welsh border, but equally I might think I was crossing the English border.

So its a personal viewpoint

--
Ἀριστοτέλης A Gloster Boy in the Forest of Dean ><((((*>

Borders

by Jefff @, West London, Middlesex, Monday, July 29, 2013, 13:13 (2647 days ago) @ pojames

Wow, thats getting a bit deep for me !
Personally and without (honestly)trying to avoid the question, I'd honestly say we just called it the Border, if anything. We all knew which Border hence country we meant. To be fair since they abandoned conscripted forced-maintenance# of Offa's Dyke, I dont think any of us thought anything of it for the majority of the time, there being no border controls etc, it being no different than crossing county boundaries.
My view changed slightly as I got older, as sadly there could be some ill-feeling between the two nations, just as there could be with young men from different parts of the same town or village, or in your case perhaps Yorkshire and Lancashire. Also my trips into Wales were usually as supporters or members of sports teams based in England, so a competitive nature was invariably there from the start. You may recall in the 70s particularly, it was the norm for England to be beaten at rugby by the great Wales sides; rugby is traditionally very important in the Forest and still overshadows football to some extent, so the Wales match was always worth watching at my best friend's house with his Welsh Valleys dad & English mum, both proud sports fanatics. Mind I also recall there was occasionally a certain attitude towards us Dean Foresters from the likes of Gloucester, for example, if only in the eyes of juveniles, altho thankfully I don't think this is true anymore. Basically, I think all Foresters are proud of their independent roots, maybe even a separate "state" from both Wales AND England, a little different and why not.

However the area thro which the Wye flows, particularly up thro' Hereford, is generally historically referred to as the Welsh Marches in guidebooks etc etc.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Welsh_Marches

I'm sure this came about from an English viewpoint, which I guess your father pickedup on. Maybe the good folk of Wales call them the English Marches ?

# Just joking of course, I have MANY good friends from Wales, some even going back to my living there as an 80s student, not to mention my paternal grandad. However its true that some Foresters are perhaps more animated with respect to our Celtic cousins than someone from elsewhere in the UK probably would be, so perhaps its best if we just call it "the border".

Status of Monmouthshire

by slowhands, proud of his ancient Dean Forest roots, Monday, July 29, 2013, 12:52 (2647 days ago) @ Jefff


Re you eventually finding your ancestor in the Wales Census, despite Usk being in Monmouthshire a supposedly English County;

This could be a can of worms to open up and I do not propose to debate this.

The status of Monmouthshire was very ambiguous esp. from say 1535 up to the 1980's - I remember maps at school showing "England and Monmouthshire" and "Wales". Prior to that the area was very much part of the Welsh Gwent and then the Normans accounted for parts of what we know as Monmouthshire to be in Gloucestershire whilst northern parts were under the administration of Herefordshire.

According to Chris Williams of Swansea University:- Williams, Chris (2011), "The Question of Monmouthshire", in Williams, Sian Rhiannon, The Gwent County History 4, Cardiff: University of Wales Press, pp. 348–359


"...The problem with Monmouthshire is that it was located not on, strictly speaking, a national frontier, but within a single political formation. This had been the case since the Acts of Union of 1536 and 1543 which had extended the English system of justice, government and parliamentary representation to the principality of Wales and the March. From the mid-sixteenth century to the early nineteenth century it had not been a matter of very much importance as to whether an England/Wales border could be identified and, if so, where it ran in respect of Monmouthshire. That situation changed in the nineteenth century, as the particular cultural, linguistic and political characteristics of Welsh society emerged as both a problem (for the British state) and as a cause (particularly among Welsh Liberals and nonconformists). Once specific policies (be they considered corrective or emancipating) began to be designed for application to Wales, then the question of Monmouthshire's placement became important."

So it might be emotive but Monmouthshire is in Wales (today) and falls under the Welsh Assembly Government.


So far as family history and this Board is concerned , as I have mentioned before, just be aware that whilst place names stay more or less the same, admin boundaries change periodically and your ancestors may be found in a division of the Census that at that time was labelled "Wales", or a BMD registered in Monmouth, Ross, or Chepstow - they are no less a Forester !

--
Ἀριστοτέλης A Gloster Boy in the Forest of Dean ><((((*>

Status of Monmouthshire

by pojames @, Monday, July 29, 2013, 14:00 (2647 days ago) @ slowhands

Thanks to you both for exploring the subect so thoroughly. Very helpful indeed. I shall say no more !

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